What Being a Ballet Dancer Truly Means
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What Being a Ballet Dancer Truly Means

An inside look into the hard-knock life of a dancer.

What Being a Ballet Dancer Truly Means
Dance Magazine

What does being a ballet dancer truly mean?

Well to me, dancing is more than just a sport or an art -- it is a lifestyle. Not only does it take up all your free time (sigh), it pushes your boundaries, both mentally and physically, to help you become a stronger person. Often times dancers are put on the back burner for other athletes, and belittled for their craft, but I'm going to say that dancing is one of the the hardest things anyone can try. It takes natural skill, agility, strength, but most of all, patience; because improvement does not show overnight. Being a dancer is hard work -- and most people don't understand just why it's so difficult, but that's what this article is about -- to share with you why being a dancer not only makes you a primed and dedicated athlete, but mentally strong person.

1. "Sorry, I have dance"

Oh, the age old line used by every dancer known to man; if you are a dancer, you know what I mean. Most of the time, dance consumes your entire life, so a social life is out of the question. You can't tell me as a dancer that you haven't used this excuse at least once; like when your friends wanted to hang out but you had those late night rehearsals after class to get ready for your upcoming performance. Such a bummer, right? But completely necessary.

2. Constant Cramps

Being a dancer, we all know that dreaded feeling at the ballet barre; first you start to get tired, but then your foot gives out and your leg cramps up. Could there be anything more dangerous? Stoping during the exercise could mean being yelled at or worse by your instructor, but who wants to be in pain? The ultimate dilemma.

3. Long Rehearsals

The dreaded Sunday rehearsals usually mean long days. You get there at nine in the morning, and usually you don't leave until around three in the afternoon. That means a solid six hour day of nonstop dancing -- with a lunch break, if you get lucky. Some people call it rehearsal, I call it my worst nightmare.

4. Developpe

Developpe. Do I have to say any more? If you have naturally great extension, good for you; if not, I feel your pain. We can try all we want to get our leg higher than ninety degrees, but in the process we may have to sell our firstborn child. The struggle is real.

5: The Water Crisis

The absolute worst feeling in the world is finishing all your water and still having a half hour left of class. Not only does it feel like the end of the world, but the desperate crawl to find an extra water bottle makes you look like a zombie from 'The Walking Dead'. Sometimes a fellow classmate will be kind enough to let you have their extra bottle, but you can not always be so lucky.

6: Buying New Shoes

When normal athletes think of buying new shoes, it is usually once a season. Being a dancer, you have to buy new pointe shoes at least once a month, considering you are on them at least twice a week. Not only are pointe shoes very expensive (bordering around one hundred dollars), but the price adds up to be a lot more than what you signed up for when you eagerly asked your teacher to be allowed to do pointe.

7: Sewing Your New Shoes

Sewing your pointe shoes is almost as much of a drag as buying them. Not only does it take hours of your day, but there is a chance the thread might not be strong enough to hold the elastic or ribbon in place once you dance in them. Trust me, having the thread unravel in a pointe shoe is like seeing all your life working amounting to nothing -- completely and utterly crushing.

8: Constant Self-Ridicule

Sure, you can argue that all athletes get self-conscious regarding a performance, but I am going to argue that being a dancer, it takes a more of a toll on you. Not only are you in skin tight leotards and tights all the time, but you are constantly comparing yourself to the other people around you. No matter what you look like, or the technique you have, you will always find something that someone else has and you don't, which can really effect a dancer's mojo. Word of advice -- stay positive!

9: Constant Critic

Constant critic by your instructor is of course only to help you grow as a dancer, but sometimes it is taken too personally, or is given out too harsh. Effort has to be given by the student to understand that it is for their own good; and by the teacher to understand that yelling and screaming at a young adult could wear them out, and really damage their self-confidence. With constructive criticism and an open mind to improvement, correction from a teacher or even a fellow peer is a healthy thing.

10: Growth

Nothing is more rewarding than seeing your technique and abilities improve after long hours of work you put into practicing. Obviously, nothing grows overnight, but if you keep working at it the improvements do eventually show; and noticing them in your dancing is the most gratifying feeling a dancer can ever achieve. It does take hard work, but if you are willing to put in the hours, it is highly rewarding.

11: The Wonderful People

Wether your dance experience was good, bad, or both, you tend to make bonds with friends that will never be broken. These people understand your struggles, and know your biggest insecurities; because most likely, theirs are the same as yours. No matter what you think about dance, the friends you make will be your friends for life, and will always be there to catch you when you fall.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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